Rebecca's Gluten Free Blog

Gluten Free in the Upper Midwest

Common foods & ingredients that may (surprisingly) contain gluten January 29, 2010

foods like breads, battered chicken strips or onion rings, pancakes, pasta, and pizzas obviously contain gluten. but there are many foods that we, as celiacs, need to watch out for.

there are some items that can contain gluten that we might not realize, when first starting on the gluten-free lifestyle. items like mainstream cereals that seem safe because they’re made of corn or rice, still usually contain malt (barley), for instance. other gluten-containing products that you might not suspect are all types of sauces (BBQ sauce, soy sauce, pasta sauces, salad dressings, etc). also soups and broths may contain gluten, as can processed meats like ham, hot dogs or sausages. some things that seem really far out there at first are chicken and turkeys~ sometimes chickens in packages are injected with a broth that may or may not contain gluten. (I always go with more natural brands to avoid those), and even whole frozen turkeys need to be checked before purchasing or eating. most of the mainstream brands are now gluten free (except for the packet of gravy that sometimes comes with it).  but always check it out before using. and as I wrote in my Thanksgiving blog, beware of the bags that many people use to cook turkeys in. I’ve heard they are off-limits and contain gluten.

also, there are a few tricky foods that could be dusted with flour, while not listing it as an ingredient. these items are ones that I always check grocery guides for, before purchasing any given brand, because without listing the flour as an ingredient, we couldn’t otherwise know except through contacting the manufacturer. one of the big ones are from the freezer department: tater tots, french fries, hash browns and other frozen potato products. I usually stick with Ore Ida, as most of their potato products are safely flour and gluten free. another item that may be dusted with flour, and not so noted, is chocolate. most of the main candy bar brands are safe, but always consult the company or a grocery guide before trying them. the chocolate that is most likely flour-dusted are the finer chocolates from specialty chocolatiers. and since they probably aren’t listed in a grocery guide, it’s best to contact the company’s info line or headquarters to get that information.

there are many ingredients that may contain gluten as well, when reading labels at the grocery store. some of these have changed over time and have been determined to come from non-gluten sources, but I like to stay cautious, in case the food was made abroad and the standard ingredients for these questionable items differ. some of the more obvious ingredients to avoid are anything with that specify wheat, barley, rye, or oats~ those are automatically out. couscous, spelt kamut, and semolina are also out. then there are more cryptic ingredients that most people don’t even know what they are or where the come from. if you search online for possible gluten-containing ingredients, you’ll come up with tons of lists, all of them different, but the main ones usually show up on all of them: the natural flavors/ flavorings, HPP/ HVP, hydrolyzed starches and proteins (unless the source is listed after the ingredient, specifying a source other than what), starch or modified food starch (again, unless a source is specified), maltodextrin, caramel color / flavoring, seasonings, and stabilizers. other, less common ones could include, emulsifiers, enzymes, glucose syrup, smoke flavoring, broth, and many more.

the list of questionable foods and ingredients goes on and on, this is just a basic primer. just try and be on guard with everything. and never be afraid to call a company or manufacturer~ I’ve called many manufacturers right from the grocery store from the numbers on the products. I find that companies increasingly have allergen information on hand, and can tell you in moments whether the product is free of gluten or other allergens. it’s better to know before you spend the money on a product, and always better to be safe. grocery guides can also be quite helpful to make the search quicker and easier, especially when first starting out and trying to remember all the potential glutenous ingredients. but it’s definitely worthwhile to learn what the suspect ingredients, because you’ll need to know them at some point in time, when you have no other resources available. it’s always better to be prepared.

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